The order, which was contained in a memo dated June 26 and signed by Maj Gen Y. Yahaya on behalf of the Chief of Defence Staff, was directed to generals, brigadiers-general, air vice marshals, and rear admirals in the Nigerian Army, Air Force, and Nigerian Navy, who are senior to the new service chiefs.
The development confirmed a report by The PUNCH that scores of top military brass would be retired following the appointment of new service chiefs by President Bola Tinubu on June 19.
The retirement of the senior officers across the three services was in line with the long-standing military tradition that officers who were senior to the service chiefs would be retired.
It is a tradition in the military that when a junior is appointed as a service chief, senior officers, who are ahead of him or her, would proceed on retirement.
The understanding is that senior military officers are unlikely to take orders from their juniors.
Tinubu had announced the immediate retirement of General Lucky Irabor who was the Chief of Defence Staff; the Chief of Army Staff, Lieut Gen Farouk Yahaya; the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Awwal Gambo, and Air Marshal Oludayo Amao, the Chief of Air Staff and replaced them with new military chiefs.
The new service chiefs are Maj Gen Christopher Musa who is the Chief of Defence Staff; the Chief of Army Staff, Maj Gen Taoreed Lagbaja; the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Emmanuel Ogalla while Air Vice Marshal Hassan Abubakar was appointed the Chief of Air Staff.
DIG Kayode Egbetokun was appointed as the acting Inspector-General of Police and Maj. Gen. E Undiandeye, Chief of Defence Intelligence.
Also, a former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, who was earlier appointed as the Security Adviser to the President, was elevated to the National Security Adviser.
While the new CDS is a member of 38 Regular Course, the COAS, the CNS, and the CAS are members of 39 Regular Course.
However, the DHQ in the memo with reference number DHQ/I5/PLANS/801/13 directed all officers with seniority on commission above that of Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 39 to submit their applications for voluntary retirement from service with immediate effect.
This, it said, was meant to preserve and uphold the tenets of the military profession which values hierarchy and service discipline.
The memo, copied to the army, navy, and air force headquarters, read in part, “It would be recalled that the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu recently appointed new CDS and Service Chiefs on June 19, 2023.
‘’In order to preserve and uphold the tenets of the military profession which values hierarchy and service discipline, it is important that all officers whose officer cadet courses run seniority above that of the current Service Chiefs disengage from the Service.
“Consequently, I am directed to respectfully request services to direct all officers with seniority on commission above that of NDA Regular Course 39 to submit their applications for voluntary retirement from Service with immediate effect. I am to add that affected officers are to submit their applications to their respective Service Headquarters no later than Mon July 3, 2023.”
When asked about the number of naval officers that may be affected by the directive on Thursday, the spokesperson for the army, Onyema Nwachukwu, said, “I am not able to generate such statistics now until it unfolds.”
In his response, the Nigerian Navy, Adedotun Ayo-Vaughan, said, “I think on this, acting DDI, DHQ (Director, Defence Information) can be reached to speak for the AFN. Already there were speculations in some print media on this. Nevertheless once cleared and permitted, it’ll be disclosed.’’
The spokesperson for the Nigerian Air Force, Air Commodore Ayodele Famuyiwa, declined comment, saying he is handing over to his successor on Monday.
Outgoing service chiefs hand over Friday
But the acting Director, Defence Information, Brig Gen Tukur Gusau could not be reached on the number of senior officers that may be affected by the directive as he did not respond to phone calls and a text message sent to his phone.
But commenting on the directive to the senior officers, retired Col Foluso Saka said it was time the military established a corps for retired personnel, adding that their experiences, especially those with technical skills, could still benefit the country.
Retired officers’ corps
He said, “I am aware it is the tradition of the military to retire some top officers when their junior is appointed but I am of the view that there should be a corps or something like a reserve for retired military personnel instead of asking them to just retire.
“The military can fall back on them should they need their services or be made to train and nurture the young ones. Their services, especially those highly skilled among them, should not be allowed to waste; they can be put to use for the benefit of the nation. A lot of resources have been expended on them to acquire the knowledge they have.”
A security analyst, Timothy Avele, said the retirement might not have an impact on the ongoing military operations across the country, adding that the security challenges facing the country required a modern approach.
He noted, “It won’t have much effect if they are being replaced with more technologically compliant young energetic officers. Times have changed; bearing the rank of a general is no longer enough to fight modern security challenges, though experience counts.”
In another development, the Nigerian Navy has announced the redeployment of 56 senior officers and one commodore.
The major shake-up in the Nigerian navy comes a few days after Ogalla took over as the chief of naval staff.
Ayo-Vaughan, the spokesperson for the navy, said the action was necessary to reposition the navy for optimum performance.
He said Olusanya Bankole, formerly the director of logistics of the defence space administration, had been appointed the chief of communications and information technology at the naval headquarters; while Alexander Bingel, formerly Director of Combat Policy and Tactics, is currently the Director of Logistics of Defence headquarters.
Rear Admiral Ibrahim Dewu, formerly Director of Project Implementation, Monitoring and Evaluation Directorate, Naval Headquarters is now the Chief of Defence Civil Military Cooperation, Defence Headquarters while Rear Admiral Kennedy Ezete formerly Director Project Monitoring, Defence Headquarters, resumes as the Chief of Administration, Naval Headquarters.
Rear Admiral Livingstone Izu, who was Director Manning at Naval Headquarters is the new Chief of Logistics, Naval Headquarters while Rear Admiral Musa Madugu, formally Deputy Director of Special Operation Forces at the Defence Headquarters has been appointed as the Admiral Superintendent Naval Ordnance Depot.
Rear Admiral Daupreye Matthew, the erstwhile Director of Innovation and Concept Development, at Naval Headquarters, is now the Director of Training, at Defence Headquarters, while Rear Admiral Zakariya Muhammad, the former Director of Training, at Naval Headquarters, has been reappointed Chief of Training and Operations.
Rear Admiral Emmanuel Nmoyem has been reappointed as Director of Human Rights Desks at the Defence Headquarters, while Rear Admiral Ibrahim Shettima formerly Flag Officer Commanding Central Naval Command moves to Defence Headquarters as Director of Plans.
The former Director of Plans, at Naval Headquarters, Rear Admiral Monday Unurhiere, has been appointed the Chief of Defence Administration at the Defence Headquarters, while Rear Admiral Hamza Kaoje who was the Director of Equipment Standardization and Harmonization, at Defence Headquarters has been appointed Group Managing Director, Navy Holdings Limited.
Rear Admiral Sulaiman El-ladan, who was the Chief of Naval Engineering, at Naval Headquarters is now at the Defence Research and Development Bureau at Defence Headquarters as the Director of Marine Research, while Rear Admiral Idi Abbas formerly Director of Operations, at Naval Headquarters, is now reappointed Chief of Naval Safety and Standards.
Rear Admiral Mohammed Abdullahi, the immediate past Director of Communications at Naval Headquarters takes over as the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command while Rear Admiral Saheed Akinwande, formerly the Commandant of Naval War College Nigeria, has been appointed Director of Operations, Naval Headquarters.